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Bankruptcy, J.D./LL.M.

School of Law
24 Credits

School of Law
Queens Campus

Overview

The J.D./LL.M. Option

As a student in the J.D./LL.M. joint degree program, you complete both your J.D. degree and your LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree in as little as seven semesters. The joint degree program can reduce by half both the time and expense of obtaining your LL.M.in Bankruptcy Degree. How does it work? The LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses you take as a J.D. student will count toward the credits needed for your J.D.degree. In addition, up to 12 of those credits can also count toward the 24 credits needed for your LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree. You will receive your J.D. degree upon completion of the J.D. degree requirements and your LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree upon the completion of the additional LL.M. degree requirements. (You must complete your J.D. degree and be formally admitted into the LL.M. program in order to receive the LL.M. degree.) 

A Flexible Option

The joint J.D./LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree program is designed to be as flexible as possible. The program is open to both St. John’s students and J.D. candidates at any ABA-accredited law school. While we strongly recommend that you apply to and be admitted into the J.D./LL.M. program before taking any LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses, LL.M. courses completed before you apply may count toward your LL.M. degree if you are later admitted into the LL.M. program. Indeed, as long as you are admitted into the LL.M. program within two years after graduating from the J.D. program, any LL.M. courses you completed as a J.D. student will count toward the requirements for your LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree. Thus, you may apply before you take any LL.M. courses, while you are taking LL.M. courses, or within two years after your J.D. graduation. However, the program is selective and admission is not guaranteed regardless of how many LL.M. courses you completed as a J.D. student. Thus, you must be accepted into the LL.M. program before taking.

 

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Admission

J.D./LL.M. Admission Standards

The J.D./LL.M. option is available to St. John’s law students and to students attending other ABA-accredited law schools (subject to the consent of the home school’s Dean). Our program is small and we are looking for strong students who have the character and intelligence needed to flourish in a rigorous academic program. Acceptance will be based on your academic record, recommendations, published and unpublished written work, interest in bankruptcy and other relevant factors. 

Students From Other Schools

Under ABA rules, our LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses may be applied as transfer credits to satisfy the J.D. requirements of other ABA-accredited law schools. You may obtain the full benefit of the joint degree program by spending your final semester of law school as a visiting student at St. John’s, taking bankruptcy courses for J.D. credit while completing half of your LL.M. degree requirements. (Alternatively, if you attend a nearby law school, you may enroll on a visiting student basis in one or more specific LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses while taking other J.D. courses at your home school.) Your home school is not required to accept transfer credits. Thus, before enrolling at St. John’s you must obtain a letter from your Dean stating that our credits will be accepted for transfer for your J.D. degree. You will receive your J.D. degree from your home school, but will already have completed much of the work on your St. John’s LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree. 

Application Process

You may apply for admission to the joint degree program at any time after you have completed 54 J.D. credit hours (the equivalent of two years of J.D. coursework), including at least one introductory bankruptcy course (the St. John’s Creditors’ Rights course or an equivalent  course at another law school). Applications may be  obtained from the LL.M.office or the program website (listed below). There is no deadline and your application will be processed as soon as it is complete. However, if you attend a school other than St. John’s, please apply well in advance of the semester you wish to matriculate so that there will be time to obtain necessary approvals from your Dean and make any necessary student loan and housing arrangements. If you are not a St. John’sstudent, you must also submit a letter from your Dean stating that our credits will be accepted for transfer for your J.D. degree.

Courses

What Do I Take?

The joint degree program is flexible so you can take as few or as many LL.M. courses as you like—and you can take them whenever you like. The only limitations are that you must have the appropriate pre-requisites (typically Creditors’ Rights) and that no more than 15 credits cancount toward the LL.M. degree (although you may take more than 15 LL.M. credits as a J.D. student). 

Special Course Considerations

Our curriculum is rich and interdisciplinary. In addition to more than two dozen specialized LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses, the full range of J.D. courses plus many M.B.A. courses are available as electives, subject to the Director’s approval. Special rules apply to J.D. and M.B.A. elective courses taken by joint degree students. Contact the Director if you want to apply these credits to your LL.M. degree requirements. The Advanced Research Seminar (thesis preparation) presents a special challenge if taken during the J.D. phase of the joint degree program. Students rarely complete a thesis early, but you must at least produce a draft that can be graded during the semester if you intend to apply any thesis credit to your J.D. degree. 

Required Courses

Advanced Bankruptcy Research Seminar Parts I and II (three credits each)
This seminar will be devoted entirely to the preparation by the student of a Masters thesis.  The professor will be able to work closely with each student in selecting the topic, performing the research, and writing the thesis.  

Bankruptcy Professionals and Ethics (two credits)
This course deals with three related and troublesome issues in bankruptcy practice.  The course will cover the specific and somewhat conflicting provisions of the Bankruptcy Code dealing with professional retention and ethics, as well as conflicts arising in representation of debtors-in-possession, and professional responsibility in the context of major bankruptcy cases.  Bankruptcy fraud situations and malpractice issues will be analyzed from a criminal and civil perspective.

Bankruptcy Jurisdiction (one credit)
This course will examine the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts.  Among the issues considered will be the authority of the bankruptcy courts to conduct jury trials; conflict of laws issues between state and bankruptcy courts; what issues are “core” matters; appellate jurisdiction; and the constitutionality of the bankruptcy court system.

Bankruptcy Procedure (two credits)
This course will include simulation and exercises in practice under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.  The students will also draft pleadings, discovery requests, orders and judgments in bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Taxation (two credits)
This course will examine the tax aspects of bankruptcy practice.  Taxation is a major aspect of many bankruptcy cases and an emerging sub-specialty in the bankruptcy field.  The course will consider such areas as the post-confirmation carry forward of losses, and tax planning for entities in financial difficulty.

Business Bankruptcy Reorganizations (two credits)
The course will examine the reorganization of financially distressed enterprises under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code and the theoretical and economic underpinnings of reorganization.  The course will consider all aspects of Chapter 11 from filing to confirmation of a plan of reorganization, conversion or dismissal.  The following topics will be covered: good faith; venue; retention and compensation of professionals; the extent of the court’s equitable powers; use, sale and lease of the debtor’s property; successor liability; post-petition financing.

Consumer Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course will examine Chapter 7 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, including the principles of the fresh start and equality of distribution; the roles of the case trustee and United States Trustee; good faith and substantial abuse; the automatic stay; property of the estate; discharge, challenges to discharge and dischargeability; rights to convert and dismiss; bankruptcy petition preparers; and recent research concerning trends and developments in consumer bankruptcy filings.  

Elective Courses

Bankruptcy Clerkship Seminar

Bankruptcy Financial Planning and Accounting (two credits)
This course will provide a working knowledge of accounting practice and procedures related to bankruptcy.  This is not a general accounting course, but is specifically related to the accounting principles and financial documents required in a bankruptcy case including monthly operating statements, and disclosure statements, as well as pro-forma financial statements prepared as part of a proposed bankruptcy plan.  LL.M. students without a substantial accounting background (e.g., CPA or equivalent) are strongly urged to take this fundamental course to comprehend, interpret and analyze financial data in order to determine whether an entity is financially viable and whether it can be reorganized under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Bankruptcy Policy

Bankruptcy Practice – Litigation (one credit)
This course focuses on the types of research, writing and oral skills that are common to most bankruptcy practices.  The course will be structured around a problem that raises a difficult bankruptcy issue.  Students will research and draft a legal memorandum analyzing the law, prepare a motion and brief, and argue the motion orally.   The course is intended to be an advanced and intensive research and writing course and students will be expected to produce at least two drafts of each written exercise.  The course will be graded on a letter grade basis, with evaluation based primarily on the quality of the exercises.  J.D. prerequisite: Creditors’ Rights.

Bankruptcy Practice – Opinion Drafting (one credit)
This course focuses on the types of transactional research and writing skills that are common to most bankruptcy practices.  The course will be structured around a common opinion issue in bankruptcy practice.  Students will conduct legal research on the issue and draft a legal opinion of the type common to bankruptcy practice (e.g., a non-consolidation or true sale opinion).   Additional exercises may be required.  The course is intended to be an advanced and intensive research and writing course and students will be expected to produce at least two drafts of each written exercise.  The course will be graded on a letter grade basis, with evaluation based primarily on the quality of the exercises.  J.D. prerequisite: Creditors’ Rights.

Bankruptcy Sales (one credit)
This course examines the bankruptcy sale process.  The course will cover the basic rules governing bankruptcy sales and will explore the motivations of the parties and creative uses of the sale process.  Evaluation will be based on an examination, but class participation or a paper may be factored into the final grade.  Pre-requisite for J.D. students: Creditors’ Rights.

Complex Bankruptcy Litigation Seminar (two credits)
This course will examine litigated aspects of fraudulent conveyances, equitable subordination, substantive consolidation, preference proceedings and contested proceedings for confirmation of chapter 11 reorganization plans, and civil RICO, lender, and CERCLA liability. The course will also address ethical issues such as conflicts of interest.

Development of Modern Bankruptcy: The Innovators (one Credit)
This course approaches recent bankruptcy history from the perspective of a major participant in the development of some aspect of bankruptcy law or practice.  Students will research the issues and cases in which the subject played an important part.  From that material, the class will prepare an interview script including questions for the subject and will participate in a videotaped interview of the selected person.   Evaluation will be based on an examination that will require a full understanding of the interviewee’s problems and objectives and the court decisions and legislative enactments that resulted from the interviewee’s efforts.  Class participation and written work may be factored into the final grade.  Pre-requisite for J.D. students – Creditors’ Rights.

Domestic Relations in Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course will examine issues such as the enforceability and dischargeability of ante-nuptial, divorce, and separation agreements; maintenance and support obligations and other pre-bankruptcy consensual arrangements including the rights and obligations of spouses of persons in bankruptcy.  Evaluation will be based on class participation as well as a final project assigned by the professor.

Drafting Bankruptcy and Commercial Agreements and Documents (two credits)
This is a practice-oriented course intended for students interested in transactional work.  Students will learn how to draft documents such as agreements pertaining to cash collateral, loans, asset purchases, disclosure statements, reorganization plans and post-petition loans.  The students will be required to submit various drafting exercises throughout the semester.  

Executory Contracts in Business Bankruptcy Cases (1 Credit)
This course examines the treatment of executory contracts in bankruptcy. The course will cover the basic rules governing assumption, rejection and assumption and assignment, and the course will explore the motivations of the parties. Evaluation will be based on an examination, but class participation may be factored into the final grade. Pre-requisite for J.D. students – Creditors’ Rights.

International Bankruptcy (2 Credits)
This course covers all aspects of international bankruptcy.  The comparative insolvency law component of the course will cover the major bankruptcy systems used around the world.  Then students will study how those systems interact in the component devoted to managing cross-border cases.  Finally the course will review the European Union regulation on cross-border insolvency and the use of the U.S. Chapter 11 procedure by foreign companies.  The course will be taught by a variety of guest lecturers from around the world who are leading experts on these topics. The lectures will be offered in real-time interactive audio/video format.  In addition, a St. John’s professor will be on-site to supervise each session and answer questions students may have. Evaluation will be based on an examination.  Class participation may be factored into the final grade.  Pre-requisite for J.D. students – Creditors’ Rights (Reorganization Under Chapter 11 is a recommended pre- or co-requisite).

Negotiation in Bankruptcy (one credit)
The Bankruptcy Code is designed to encourage debtors and creditors to reach accommodations.  In Chapter 11, a negotiated, consensual plan of reorganization is considered desirable.  This course will focus on negotiation problems and techniques, involving simulated negotiation problems, to increase students' awareness of negotiation issues and to enhance their ability to negotiate the successful resolution of bankruptcy issues and cases.

New Developments in Business Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course explores recent important developments in the area of Business Bankruptcy that may not be addressed fully in other courses.  The instructor will moderate seven two-hour sessions that will bring to St. John’s the foremost experts on the subjects covered.  The topics covered by the guest lecturers will vary from year to year.   Students will be assigned readings for each class, which will generally include a paper prepared by the lecturer and assigned cases.  Evaluation will be based on an examination, but active class participation is required and participation in class exercises may be factored into the final grade.   Pre-requisite for JD students – Creditor’s Rights.

Partnership Bankruptcy, LLC and Altnerative Entity Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course considers bankruptcy issues uniquely confronting general- and limited liability partnerships and LLC’s, with an emphasis on partnerships. Issues include: case commencement; scope of property of the estate; scope of the automatic stay; treatment of partnership agreements under Section 365; rights and claims between (and among) a partnership and its constituent partners (including a study of Section 723); discharge of individual partners' debts, and specialized plan confirmation issues. Various proposals for legislative reform, such as those of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission will considered. Tax issues will be touched upon, but not considered in depth.

Pension Benefits in Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course will examine the effect of the bankruptcy of an employer on the pension benefits, both ERISA and non-ERISA, of employees.  It will also examine the effect of bankruptcy on life insurance and health benefits.  It will discuss when and if ERISA benefits become part of the estate of an employee who files in bankruptcy.  Attention will be given to issues arising in representing the employer or individual employee when one or the other files in bankruptcy and the limits on the reach of creditors with respect to benefits otherwise available to the employee and the employee's family.

Real Estate Workouts and Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course will examine the consequences of real estate defaults, emphasizing major current problems faced by real estate mortgagees, landlords, tenants and partners in default situations and mitigating drafting techniques that may be employed in the documentation stage.  Among the areas covered will be: negotiating and drafting a workout agreement; lender liability; cramdown of bankruptcy plans; and the effect of bankruptcy of a real estate partner.

Representing Trustees in Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course examines current issues that arise in the representation of trustees in the bankruptcy process.  Among other issues, the course will examine the powers and duties of a trustee, the process of appointment and compensation of a trustee, the role a trustee plays in different contexts, and the relationship between a trustee and the Office of the United States Trustee.  The differing powers, duties, & roles of a trustee in Chapter 7, 11, 12 & 13 cases will be explored.

Secured Transactions in Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course examines the effect of Article 9 personal property security interests on the rights of creditors in bankruptcy cases.  Particular emphasis is placed on the interplay between the provisions of UCC Article 9 and the Bankruptcy Code.  The course explores the array of secured creditor issues that can arise in both consumer and business cases.  

Securitization, Structured Finance and Capital Markets (two credits)
This course will examine the legal structure of securitization, a trillion-dollar industry.  Securitization is the process by which a company sells its receivables (debts owed to it) to a special purpose entity (SPE) created specifically for that purpose.  This form of financing can realize lower interest rates to the company selling the receivables than if the company borrowed against its receivables and kept title.  The most common securitization is GNMA certificates, representing collections of promissory notes secured by home mortgages.  In recent years, car loans, consumer receivables and bank loan portfolios have been securitized in this manner. Indeed, even entertainers such as David Bowie have securitized their music royalties.  The course will touch on various legal issues raised by this industry, including secured transactions, bankruptcy, corporate finance, securities regulation, corporate governance, and the role that legal opinions play throughout the deal process.

Selected Topics in Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course will be offered in the LL.M. Bankruptcy program periodically to explore a topic of major significance to the insolvency community that is not covered or covered sufficiently in some other course.  It will be a thorough, in depth, review of the issue and the problems arising therefrom.  It will be taught by an expert or experts in the area involved.  Students may enroll for multiple “Selected Topics” course offerings but may not take the same offering for credit more than once.  

Shariah Finance

Small Business Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course will address and discuss the problems encountered by, and the possible solutions for small business entities (corporations, partnerships, and LLC’s) in financial distress.  In addition to facing all the same inherent problems that large businesses have in reorganizing and restructuring, small businesses face added burdens with regard to the inherent costs of successful reorganization and access to quality financial and legal advice.  Likewise, small business creditors often look at huge write-offs that might be mitigated by a successful reorganization process. The goal is for the students to obtain a thorough understanding of the many issues involved in small business and agricultural bankruptcies.

Supreme Court Amicus Brief Part I (2 credits over 2 semesters)
Under the supervision of the professor, the class will research, draft and file an amicus brief in a pending U.S. Supreme Court bankruptcy appeal (or Court of Appeals case if there is no appropriate Supreme Court appeal).  Students will also study brief writing and the amicus concept.  Written assignments will include at least one research memo and a section of the amicus brief.  Grading will be based on the quality of the student’s research and written work, and on the student’s contribution to the amicus brief project.  Although there is a classroom component to the course, the majority of the work will be concentrated in the period when the brief is written.  Since the brief deadline could be in either semester, students must commit to both semesters of the course.  Enrollment is limited and open only to LL.M. students.

Designated J.D. Level Elective Courses

Students may elect, subject to approval, a limited number of the following group of designated existing courses offered at St. John’s provided they have not taken similar courses in seeking their J.D. degree and meet any necessary prerequisites for the courses. Students may take other J.D. courses with permission where the course is necessary in connection with the student’s thesis or contemplated area of expertise.

Advanced Real Estate Transactions (two credits)
This course is designed to acquaint the student with current real estate concepts and trends. It studies institutional lending practices, sale and leaseback financing, real estate investment trusts, syndication, air rights projects, and cooperatives and condominiums. The income tax ramifications of various legal arrangements are studied in conjunction with an analysis of the legal framework of the transaction.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (two credits)
This course is designed to give both the theoretical and practical approaches to the various forms of the dispute resolution process including mediation, conciliation, fact-finding, court-annexed arbitration and hybrid combinations of these processes. The course is concerned with the factors underlying these methods of dispute resolution and the ethical issues arising in the ADR context. Simulated ADR situations will be videotaped and critiqued. Grades will be based on a written paper.

Business Planning (three credits)
This course is designed to coordinate several areas of business-related law and to sensitize students to the constant practical interplay of these areas. Students will be assisted in verbalizing and drafting responses to the problems encountered. Significant emphasis is placed on out-of-class drafting of legal documents.

Consumer Protection (three credits)
This course explores the laws governing a variety of oppressive sales practices, including unfair and deceptive advertising, bait and switch transactions, and referral sales. The course also examines the law governing credit cards and other consumer credit transactions, including credit reporting, credit discrimination, abusive collection practices, and usury, and covers relevant federal and state statutes.

Corporate Finance (three credits)
The course consists of a detailed study of legal, business, economic, corporate and accounting aspects of corporate valuation and of capital structure, issuance and reacquisition of various types of securities (including new financial instruments and financing techniques), dividend policy, interplay with financial markets, and the use and legal regulation of commodity and financial futures, options and markets. It will also deal with financing in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions and related issues in contemporary corporate finance.

Federal Corporate Income Taxation (two credits)
This course applies the principles of federal income taxation to problems arising from the use of the corporate form. The tax consequences to the corporation and to the shareholders are considered. Major topics covered in the course include what entities are considered corporations for tax purposes, tax-free incorporation, the treatment of dividends and Section 306 stock, redemptions, partial and complete liquidations, and mergers, divisions and other corporate reorganizations.

Federal Securities Regulation (three credits)
The course focuses on the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Particular emphasis will be placed on the public distribution process, registration, proxy regulation, regulation of tender offers and corporate repurchases, short-swing trading by corporate insiders and the anti-fraud provisions (including Rule 10b-5 and civil liability). The course will also examine the professional responsibilities of securities lawyers and other professionals andwill touch upon regulation of securities exchanges and the over-the-counter market and regulation of brokers and dealers.

Secured Transactions (two credits)
In this course, the history, structure and operation of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (secured transactions) are studied in detail. The course material is supplemented by problems designed principally to familiarize the student with the terminology and basic concepts of Article 9.

Designated M.B.A. Elective Courses:
Students may elect, subject to approval, a maximum of six credit hours of graduate level courses offered by the Peter J. Tobin College of Business.  (Students in the joint J.D./LL.M. degree program are permitted to apply such M.B.A. course credits to the LL.M. degree even if the M.B.A. credits are received prior to completion of the J.D. degree.)  The following designated courses generally would be allowed as LL.M. electives.  Students may take other M.B.A. courses with permission where the course is necessary in connection with the student’s thesis or contemplated area of expertise.

ECO 600 Managerial Economics and Forecasting
Prerequisite: ECO 506. This course focuses on applied microeconomics. It addresses practical business problems, including analysis of industries within national and international contexts. The course also analyzes the problem of forecasting as an integral part of decision-making. Credit: 3 semester hours.

FIN 634 Investment Analysis
Prerequisites: FIN 633. This course covers the microstructure of the securities markets, trading mechanisms, investment processes, investment objectives, risk analysis and security valuation. The course examines the applicability of fundamental analysis, efficient market theory and technical analysis. Hedging and alternative investments are also covered. Credit: 3 semester hours.

FIN 635 Capital and Money Markets
Prerequisite: FIN 507. The course focuses on structure, operation, instruments and players of the capital markets in the United States, Japan, Europe and emerging markets. The course also discusses impact of government policy on interest rates, exchange rates, market practices, development of securities design, financial risk management and international monetary policies. Credit: 3 semester hours.

FIN 655 Financial Risk Management
Prerequisite: FIN 633. Topics include risk identification, risk measurement, risk monitoring and risk management/control. The primary objective is to expose students to primary areas of risk management and enable them to understand risk reports and data and their implications to the institution. (Overlaps with Rmi. 614, students may take only one.) Credit: 3 semester hours.

MGT 640 Entrepreneurship
Students learn how to plan and implement a new venture. Entrepreneurial processes are examined in the context of organizing a planning team, isolating key planning premises and establishing objectives, strategies and policies to achieve planning and operational success. Planning and control are examined and practiced from the perspective of entrepreneurs who develop ideas for new ventures, then marshal and manage the resources to bring their ideas to reality. The course uses case studies, application projects and oral and written reports. Credit: 3 semester hours.

RMI 614 Risk Funding Tools
Derivatives, swaps, hybrid securities, indexed debt, contingent financing and insurance. Results in students able to hedge pure and financial risk singularly and jointly. (Overlaps with Fin. 655, students may take only one.)  Credit: 3 semester hours.

Additional Information

Financial Aid

The joint degree option has the effect of a half-tuition LL.M. scholarship since you may double-count up to half of the credits needed forthe LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree. In addition, several LL.M. scholarships are available for exceptional students. However, LL.M. scholarship aid will be applied only to the credit hours you take in the LL.M. program after completion of your J.D. degree (and thus is not available for theJ.D. portion of the joint-degree program). If you attend a school other than St. John’s University, we can arrange a consortium agreement (if your home school agrees) so that your student loans will be available for credits taken at St. John’s before you receive your J.D. degree. Various student loan and work-study programs are available for your post-J.D. work in the LL.M. program.